The Washington Times-Herald


October 22, 2013

The Mississinewa River - Part 1

In a past column I featured one of the several larger rivers in northeastern Indiana. This was the Salamonie, a very scenic and historic river. There is a sister-like river, the Mississinewa, south of the Salamonie that has many of the same characteristics.

The name Mississinewa is the Miami Indian name for “falling water” or “it slopes or slants,” as this swift flowing stream does have a number of rapids along its often rocky bed.

Among the characteristics shared by both rivers are dams that create large flood control lakes, both start near or in Ohio, and the region they pass through was once part of a natural gas boom

The dam on the Mississinewa, as with the Salamonie, is close to the Wabash River, southeast of the city of Peru. This dam is 8,000 feet in length with a height of 140 feet. The lake formed by this dam has a summer pool of 3,180 acres, but has a capacity of 12,830 acres when needed for flood control. The Mississinewa Project has a total of 15,072 acres and offers both fishing and hunting in season, as well as a number of recreational activities.

This was Miami Indian territory and has many Native American heritage sites near or along the Mississinewa. One of these is the Godfrey Cemetery, a Miami heritage site, where only Indians and their white spouses have been allowed to be placed in its hallowed ground.

Among the Indians in the cemetery is Francis Godfrey, the last Miami war chief. The son of a French trader and a Miami mother, Godfrey, after the War of 1812 in which he fought against the whites, became a merchant and was the second wealthiest Indian at the time of his death.

Down river from the Mississinewa Dam are the Seven Pillars of the Mississinewa, another Miami heritage site now part of a nature preserve. The Seven Pillars, formed by the erosive action of the river’s waters, is a noted geological site. A series of 60-foot limestone pillars extend for some distance along the Mississinewa and are best viewed from a county road across the river from the pillar.

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